Colleen Caslin - 1010 Park Place
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Colleen Caslin

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COO VERDURA & BOARD MEMBER OF WOMEN’S VOICES FOR CHANGE

By Brenda Coffee content editorial director Mark Grischke photographer Noel Sutherland

So the story goes, on her 90th birthday, Babs Simpson, a former Fashion Editor at Vogue, wore all of the Verdura pieces she owned. “That’s what I aspire to be. It’s all about the jewelry,” said Colleen Caslin, COO of Verdura, the American, international, fine jewelry firm. “To enjoy jewelry every day. Jewelry allows you to create your own style. Tone it up, or tone it down, but no matter what age, we should have fun with it.”

There aren’t many women who don’t fade into the background when wearing a brooch made with four rubies, 59 diamonds, 46 seed pearls and a Portuguese coin from 1780, but Colleen Caslin is no shrinking violet. Neither is Verdura’s Fifth Avenue salon, overlooking Central Park. Its plush walls are lined with history: breathtaking jeweled pieces designed and created for the most famous style icons in the world.

“MOST WOMEN, WHEN THEY HIT A CERTAIN POINT IN THEIR LIVES, ARE EITHER EMPOWERED AND HAVE FUN WITH THEIR LIFE AND ARE NOT AFRAID TO CHANGE AND PUSH BOUNDARIES, OR THEY BECOME COMPLACENT…”

Verdura’s elegant designs transcend time. In addition to the New York salon, Verdura is available from select retail partners, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Betteridge, Obsidian in London and Mindham Fine Jewelry in Toronto. Founded in 1939, by Sicilian Duke Fulco di Verdura, the company created the bejeweled Maltese Cross cuff bracelets worn day and night, on each wrist, by Coco Chanel; the Curb Link bracelet, a favorite of Greta Garbo, Princess Diana and fashion designer, Carolina Herrera, who wears hers with the Curb Link Bracelet watch.

“Verdura defines quintessential luxury,” said Caslin. “Verdura jewelry are timeless designs.”

From an early age, Colleen Caslin spent a great deal of time in museums. A graduate of Georgetown University, she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “I was studying business, marketing and communications, while working at Tiffany & Company, where I developed this love affair with jewelry.” Early in her career, her passion for stones led her to receive her certification in gemology.

“I’ve been very blessed to work with some of the internationally renowned jewelry designers and creative directors, interfacing with fashion designers who have a global presence. My world and taste levels evolved due to a global exposure to tastemakers, Hollywood icons and stylists. Working in product development, marketing and operations opened up unlimited possibilities. Who gets to dress the Oscar winners at the Academy Awards that resulted in a grand slam? As a result, your taste is honed to higher levels.

“A pivotal point in my style evolution was living and working abroad, especially in Paris, on Place Vendôme for Chaumet. French women have this inherent sense of style, mixing fabrics and materials. That had a profound impact on me. It was all about accessorizing. Jewelry is one of the accessories which can change an entire wardrobe.

“Most women, when they reach a certain point in their lives, are empowered and truly embrace their life. They aren’t afraid to change and push boundaries, or they become complacent, and there’s not the desire, or the theater in their daily life. Being comfortable in your own skin and not basing your feelings on someone else’s attitude is important.”

Living the Dream!

–Colleen Caslin

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Q and A with Colleen Caslin

with Colleen

STYLE NOW VERSUS 20 YEARS AGO:

Living and working abroad, interfacing with the .1% on a global level whether Heads of State, members of the Royal Family, you develop a sophisticated, discerning eye. The turning point was marrying into a Parisian family with exquisite taste and intellectual curiosity. Everyday was a “defile” fashion show in the streets. Winter season in St. Moritz, holidays in Normandy, to the South of France… Great style was everywhere.

FAVORITE DESIGNER:

I’ve always had a keen interest in fashion. Yves Saint Laurent being a favorite. Loved Hermes, because it was not only about design integrity but about quality, enduring style.

FAVORITE STYLE ICONS:

I adore Slim Keith’s style, to Babe Paley, to Chanel and Diana Vreeland.

STEPPING UP OUR FASHION GAME:

It’s about reinvention. These are the best years of our lives. At this point in your life, you have to have fun and make it interesting. Be fearless. Be open. Take time to learn to tie a scarf, how to incorporate a piece of jewelry, or layer so it doesn’t look contrived, but becomes a part of who you are.

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU:

It is a question of who empowers me, and it is my delicious husband, Gerard, who is a wonderful husband with impeccable taste. He’s extremely supportive. Staying true to who you are, and never compromising your values. That empowers me to not settle; to keep striving and pushing. I’ve been fortunate to meet some wonderful women who empower one another. I have a sisterhood on the Board of Women’s Voices for Change. There are women on the board that have gone through life altering moments, from a medical standpoint to losing family members and yet, they always infuse positive energy.

WHAT’S NOT WORTH IT ANYMORE:

Not worrying about what people think. That’s a hard thing to get past. Not worrying about the minutia, because life is very short.

ASPIRE TO:

To give back from a philanthropic standpoint. To help young people in their career the way I’ve been helped. To help somebody who’s in a difficult position; to give them hope.

GUILTY PLEASURE:

Delicious French food with a stunning Bordeaux. Watching classic French films.

LIPSTICK OR EYELINER:

Lipstick

SHOP ONLINE:

Growing up in retail, there is nothing like the luxury retail experience, but I do a lot online with gifts, books, films and clothing.

DEFINITION OF LUXURY:

In one word: Verdura. We sell vintage and modern pieces. We carry signed and non signed vintage pieces, and we do bespoke Verdura pieces. We work with our clients, opening our archives to recreate pieces. There’s over 10,000 designs. I’ve never seen the depth of design. Seeing a style icon like Carolina Herrera wear a Verdura curb link bracelet and watch set… She is my role model.

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